The Golden Bowl Book 5, Chapters 1-3 Summary

Henry James

Book 5, Chapters 1-3 Summary

After all the guests arrive at Fawns, Maggie experiences a sense of freedom, almost as if she were being released from a murky, enclosed space. Although no other exchange has occurred between her and her husband, she feels that he has kept his distance from Charlotte, as he has kept his distance from her. She explains this to Fanny Assingham, who is befuddled as to her friend’s assurance that Amerigo has not told Charlotte that Maggie knows about their affair.

When Maggie had explained to Amerigo about her purchase of the golden bowl, she told her husband that she felt the Jewish shopkeeper tried to return part of the purchase money because he liked her. When mentioning that he had known the two people (Charlotte and Amerigo) in the photographs, the shopkeeper told Maggie that he remembered them only because he had a major purchase a short time after their visit to his shop, not because he found them worthy of his attention. It was Maggie alone who touched his heart.

The Castledeans leave Fawns just as Mrs. Rance and the Miss Lutes return to the area. Maggie feels that Charlotte is waiting for an opportunity to confront Maggie with her affair with Amerigo. After dinner one evening, Maggie leaves the group to stand alone on the balcony. She feels that she is on the outside, observing (and judging) those within. Soon Charlotte joins her. They stop to watch Mr. Verver, and they inwardly question whose side he is on. Then they retreat to the other side of the house. Charlotte confronts Maggie, asking her if she has done anything to upset Maggie, since she has felt for some time that Maggie is keeping her distance from her. Maggie quietly states that she has nothing against Charlotte. Charlotte asks Maggie for a kiss as a sign of complete peace between them. Maggie passively agrees just as the others come out to join them.

A few days later, Maggie and Mr. Verver walk together to discuss their current situation. Mr. Verver asks his daughter if she is stronger in dealing with Mrs. Ranch and the Miss Lutches than she was previously. Maggie states that she is—she is stronger in many areas. She apologizes to her father for making him the victim of her selfishness. Mr. Verver denies this. He says that perhaps to prove the point, he and Charlotte may return to America. He and Maggie agree that they trust each other more than anyone else; they intend this to include their respective spouses. They continue to be an independent unit, just as they were before their marriages.